For most cross-channel retailers 2008 was a financial disaster, and surviving to discuss 2009 is an achievement. No different at Zales Jewelers. The mall and outlet center-based retailer closed more than 100 stores and took an 18 percent hit in 2008. But one of the bright spots has been its ecommerce operation. As SVP Steve Larkin says we “do a lot of stuff” online that doesn’t get as much publicity as the collapse of the high-end jewelry market. We talked to Larkin after the company announced that its revenues for January and February had stabilized for 2009.
We’ve heard a lot lately about the saving power of ecommerce as offline retail struggles and the economy starts to crawl back. Zales has certainly had its offline problems, and I’m interested to know your macro view of retailing right now.
Ecommerce is better than traditional retailing. And that comes from advances in just about everything that has to do with online retail. We’re constantly improving the customer experience and constantly improving customer service. I also think we provide a lot of value online for the customer. They can comparison shop, they can research products, and they can get best price. We will continue to invest in ecommerce and continue to cross-promote our online store through our offline stores.